There were two bits of news last week whose juxtaposition I found particularly striking. I found them striking because of the glimpse they gave us into our future.
On the one hand we heard about Oxford City Council’s plans to spend £6.5m of taxpayers’ money dividing the city into six ‘climate zones’ to impose traffic restrictions on citizens and visitors. As you probably already know, these would limit the number of times members of a household could cross from their zone into another zone in a car to 100 times a year and those living outside the city would have to apply for permits which would allow them just 25 zone-crossings a year. Moreover, the council, supposedly elected to serve the people of Oxford, planned to implement this mini-lockdown ‘whether people like it or not’.
On the other hand, we learnt that national treasure, Stephen Fry, has spent part of the last year reportedly “travelling the globe for a new documentary, A Year on Planet Earth‘”. From what I understand, Mr. Fry visited quite a few places while making his documentary, including the Amazon (the forest, not the online shopping megalith), Iceland (the country, not the shop), California, Mexico, the Serengeti, Tibet, China, Los A ngeles, possibly Australia and no doubt several other places. Here’s a quote from Mr. Fry talking to a reporter last week:
Mr. Fry seems to be enjoying his travels.
I, of course, don’t know how our national treasure travels when making his important documentary. But I rather doubt that someone of his importance spends hours with his impressive frame cramped in a tiny seat in cattle class squeezed between ordinary riff-raff and their screaming children. In fact, I rather suspect that at a minimum, Mr. Fry travels in Business Class and probably even in First Class if that’s available. So, if I am right, he can relax sipping champagne and enjoying three-course meals while lecturing the rest of us on the need for us to reduce our use of fossil fuels. As Mr. Fry said in June: “But the fact is, reasonable people, I think, understand that something has to be done about fossil fuels – most of all about our insatiable appetite for them.”
We must also remember that Mr. Fry won’t have been travelling alone. There would be a film crew of at least four and probably as many as ten people – possibly including script-writers, researchers, trip organisers and other useful individuals – accompanying him and tending to his every need.
I worked in advertising for a few years and, whenever there was an ad shoot in some exotic location such as the Caribbean or California, it was extraordinary how many of the ad agency’s employees felt it necessary to attend the film shoot given that their expenses would be paid by the agency’s generous clients. I wonder how many people there were in Mr. Fry’s entourage and how Mr. Fry’s retinue travelled? Cattle class? Or something rather more fossil-fuel-guzzlingly comfortable?
Read More: Stephen Fry Jets Around the World to Lecture the Rest of Us